LAHORE: A large number of employees of the health department protested outside the Punjab Assembly against privatisation of the health sector on Monday as they believe the privatisation of hospitals will be the final nail in department’s coffin.
Scores of women also took part in the protest. Earlier, they gathered outside office of the health department’s director and later started marching towards Charing Cross.
Medical staff to protest against hospital privatisation
The law enforcement agencies, keeping in view inconvenience of commuters and pedestrians called the anti-riot police force and used water cannon to disperse the protesters. Holding placards and banners inscribed with anti-government slogans, the protesters chanted slogans against the government and officials of the health department.
“The health department has planned to outsource the employees of anti- dengue spray, polio vaccinators and basic health units, established in rural areas of Punjab,” said Naureen Fatima, a polio worker.
She said that thousands of employees feared that after the privatisation of the health sector they would be sacked. “We will not let privatisation of health sector happen. Today’s protest has proved that the workers are united against the privatisation of the health sector and outsourcing policy. We will resist till our last breath.”
United Health Federation President Chaudhry Mushtaq Gujjar told The Express Tribunes that the employees had already stopped working for anti-dengue and other campaigns, including polio drive.
‘Hospitals are not being privatised’
“The government will be responsible if any untoward incident happens. We are sitting here since morning but no government official came to negotiate with us.”
He said that the government had failed to confirm jobs of the employees, who worked day and night to eradicate polio and dengue from the province. “Our main demand is to stop privatisation of the public sector hospitals and regularise jobs of all the employees, who were appointed on contract basis.”
He said they were hired with the promise that they would be made permanent after some time but the government did not fulfil its promise,” said Gujjar.
He added that they would continue their protest on Tuesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2017.